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The future of aircraft ground operations - The case of passenger boarding
This cumulative habilitation thesis documents my research in the field of air traffic management with a specific focus on the aircraft ground operations. My research interests aims at a seamless transport network, where the aircraft and passenger trajectories are synchronized. Thus, I started working on aircraft turnaround and in particular the passenger controlled boarding process. My research followed consequently a development process: model creation, calibration, validation, evaluation of technologies and procedures, and field trials. Finally, I developed and realized two innovative concepts: a future connected cabin, which allows to predict the boarding progress in real-time using the connected aircraft cabin as a sensor network, and the dynamic seat allocation, which provides a passenger and service focused boarding with a minimum of negative interferences. I developed a stochastic model for aircraft boarding to cover both individual passenger behavior and operational constraints from airlines and airport. In close cooperation with airlines and airports field trials were conducted and field measurements were used to calibrate input parameters of the boarding model and to validate simulation results. The stochastic model was used to evaluate a high bandwidth of different boarding strategies and innovative technologies, such as the Side-Slip Seat. The evaluation shows that the numbers of expected interferences between passengers during storage of hand luggage and seating could be used as a metric of complexity to predict the final boarding time. In the next step, a sensor concept was developed to detect the position of passengers in the aircraft cabin (seat sensor, sensor floor in the aisle). This concept was realized in a closed cooperation with Eurowings and supported by Cologne Bonn airport, where an A319 was equipped with sensors in the cabin and a field trial was conducted. In parallel, the approach of dynamic seat allocation was successfully tested.